21 April 2007

La independencia de Escocia gana terreno -

the approximate English translation (edited and simplified) produced by Google is as follows:

Scottish Independence takes hold of the country

The nationalists of the SNP have moved Independence to the top of the to debate on the political agenda

by Special Correspondent, ÍÑIGO GURRUCHAGA/ENVIADO

PETERHEAD. When you see the building that is the HQ of the Conservative Party in the Scottish constituency of Banff and Buchan one thinks that it is a social force that perhaps had relevance in the past. When one speaks with those inside one concludes that the Scottish conservatives do not have future.

The building is next to the police station on the sidewalk of a traffic island in Mintlaw, a pleasant and gentile town, with a fish processing factory in a mainly agricultural region. The building is modest, with British and Scottish flags on its masts.

There, four members of the party work on electoral tasks and the candidate, Geordie Burnett Stuart, is enchanting to the visitors with an entertaining biographical and political story. He was a Labour Party member, a Social Democrat, a Liberal. “Now I am unionist” he says, “because the union is in danger and I believe that it is a modern and progressive idea”.

Perhaps the ideological mobility of Stuart is a problem for the voters, but Stuart recognizes that there is nowhere else to begin the conversation. The most evident problem that he has as a candidate, the one most obvious to the ear, is that he “speaks in English”. He does not mean that the rest of the population speaks in another language - in this part of the northeast of Scotland, gaelic is rare and most natives speak a local dialect - “doric”, but that he speaks with the phonetics of an Englishman in an area where people speak in a different way, with strong consonants.

Here, nevertheless, in this electoral area, the conservatives regularly sent their representative to Westminster. Until, in the Seventies, when everything began to change. From 1987, when the present leader of Scottish National Party (SNP), Alex Salmond, became candidate and was elected, that party has increased its majorities in each election, both to the Parliament at Westminster or the one in Edinburgh, created in 1997. More than half of the population usually now vote for the independentista candidate.

And in the building in Mintlaw the reasons for this are explained. The Conservative Party was paternalistic; the common fishing policy of the then European Economic Community created real difficulties in the area; and the nationalists were successful in establishing the question of the union or independence, of the Scottish power, as the main issue.

For example, to Geordie Stuart, the legislative devolution of Tony Blair seems to him “a disaster which we failed to prevent”, but, now resigned to operate in the devolved parliament, he wants, if successful in the elections, to reform the Scottish Government. According to him, the minister of Fishing in Edinburgh should lead the British delegation in the European negotiations.

Wealth, austerity

Stuart will not be successful in the elections. At least, he will not be in this seat. Until David Cameron there had been no hope of revitalizing a declining and aging Scottish party. Stuart will not gift a pleasant surprise to Cameron. Banff and Buchan will vote for a member that favours independence.

The region is a peculiar mixture of wealth and austerity. It is a beautiful and cold place, with dark houses of granite and slate tile roofs. There are not the devastated districts there such as the de-industrialization in central Scotland has left, in the urban strip around Glasgow and Edinburgh.

In addition to the farming wealth, the area has fishing towns - Peterhead, Fraserburgh, Macduff- that are the capitals of the refined cuisine in United Kingdom and of a significant and successful processing industry. The nights of St Fergus are extraordinary. A constellation of light bulbs illuminates the dark from the terminal of gas coming from wells of the North Sea. It sends 15% of the gas consumption in the British economy.

Energy, aspiration

The northeast of Scotland is the region next to the petroleum of the North Sea, that has pumped the British economy from the Seventies, at the same time that the entry into the EEC forced the fishing sector to give up sovereignty of its waters, to negotiate with others a system of quotas, to reconstruct themselves without apparent benefit.

Petroleum and the fishing were important in the slide towards nationalism in this region, but the subject is not only in that, according to Stewart Stevenson, the nationalist parliamentarian of the area, who will certainly be re-elected in the elections of next the 3 May.

The SNP has a variety of people with the professional capacity to govern. Stevenson was responsible for technology of the Bank of Scotland. His old friend, elected to represent this area at Westminster and leader of the party, Alex Salmond, was oil economist of the Royal Bank of Scotland. The nationalists are, with their ideology left of center, a the clear alternative to the conservatives unlike the dominant labour party, that, according to Stevenson, has shown in administration a high degree of incompetence and has encouraged a culture of dependency and subsidy. “We want to wake up the energy of our society”, he says.

They want, in addition, with a nationalism that explicitly rejects definition by identity, to separate from the British Treasury, to control through an independent Government the resources of the petroleum of the North Sea and, although are not eurosceptics, but pro-European, to leave the common fishing policy, to repatriate territorial waters and to promote bilateral agreements rather than depending on Austrian lawyers or political Maltese decide to the fate of their fishing.

If in Banff and Buchan, the SNP has replaced to the conservatives as the party of aspiration, its challenge is now in challenging bastions of the Labour Party. Here a first step occurred. And the pollsters say that they will be leading in May.

to read the orginal story in Spanish click on

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